Adelaide Film Festival Opens Submissions For $50,000 Grant For Australians Whose Work Enriches The Community

12 July 2018



The Adelaide Film Festival today opened submissions for the fourth year of the Jim Bettison and Helen James Award which recognises individual Australians who have contributed exemplary and inspiring lifelong work of high achievement in their area of expertise, with benefit to the wider community. Submissions are invited from Australians from fields of expertise including the arts and humanities, social justice, the environment or the sciences. Submissions close 21 August 2018 and the winner will be announced at the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival.

“Helen and Jim envisioned an Award that would be given annually to an individual whose lifetime work is of significant value and benefit to the community; and who could use the opportunity offered by the award to record, archive or extend that work for the ongoing benefit of the community; or to complete a project related to that work,” said Doreen Mellor, spokesperson for the Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation.

The 2018 recipient will join an alumni of outstanding Australians whose work has benefited from the $50,000 Award. This prestigious honour both acknowledges the recipient’s achievements, and enables them to further their work through the nominated project or activity, which in turn will benefit and enrich the community.

recipient: Leading Australian social documentary and arts photographer, Robert McFarlane has been capturing defining moments of Australian life for more than half a century. From his early work in the 1960s capturing the now iconic images of a young Indigenous activist Charlie Perkins at university and the Beatles arriving in Australia, McFarlane went on to photograph many historical Australian moments both big and small over the subsequent decades. Prime Ministers, film directors, Go-Go dancers, artists, surgeons, activists and workers, all have found themselves in front of McFarlane’s lens as he uniquely chronicled the changing face of Australia. This award both acknowledges his extensive and acclaimed body of work, and grants $50,000 which will go towards collating a valuable and comprehensive archive of his photographs to ensure Australians can benefit from his work well into the future.

In 2016 two bold and innovative individuals were honoured. One of Australia’s pre-eminent dancers, choreographers and directors, Meryl Tankard has a long and distinguished career across the medium of dance in Australia and internationally, and continues to push the form in new creative directions. The Award will enable Tankard to further a number of projects that explore two themes central to her career as a choreographer and film-maker: the transformative power of art, and the positive impact that creativity can have on physical and mental health conditions.

Adventurer and environmental scientist Tim Jarvis is project leader of 25zero, an adventurous and visually spectacular global initiative against the biggest threat facing humanity, climate change. In 2015, 25zero teams summited seven mountains in three continents during the 12 days of the United Nations Climate Change talks (COP21) in Paris, sending footage, images and stories to COP21 where they were used to push decision makers to arrive at a meaningful agreement. The Award will enable development of the phenomenal footage from the climbs into new forms, including a documentary, all of which are designed to educate and engage in the issue of climate change by ‘showing’ it.

The inaugural recipient in 2015 was Greg Mackie OAM, founder of the iconic South Australian thought leadership event, Adelaide Festival of Ideas. Supported by the Award, Mackie has been researching and working towards the establishment of a ‘Thinking Adelaide’ global network of innovators and thought leaders, drawn from participants of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas and the former Adelaide Thinkers in Residence Program. The initiative, an extension of his life’s work, aims to enhance Adelaide’s national and international standing as a promoter and crucible of new thinking.

Adelaide Film Festival CEO and Artistic Director Amanda Duthie said “It is a privilege for Adelaide Film Festival to open submissions for this prestigious award which acknowledges an amazing Australian for their outstanding work in their field of interest, and award them the resources to further their mission. Similarly, through the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund we aim to garner innovative partnerships and collaborate to create opportunities for Australian key thinkers and practitioners, enabling bold new Australian screen stories, providing a deeper and more rigorous understanding of the way we live now and how we could live in the future.”

2017 recipient Robert McFarlane said “During my five-decade working life as a photojournalist, it’s been a privilege to witness the evolving social, artistic and political fabric of Australia. The cultural landscape of Australia has long included Meryl Tankard, and having been fortunate enough to photograph her in performance, I was delighted to learn that she was a recipient of the Bettison James Award in 2016. Knowing that Tim Jarvis and Greg Mackie have been just as important in their fields, I’m honoured to have been invited into such illustrious company, and for my photography to be recognised as being worthy of such an important award as this. The Award is far more than just an honour, of course – it affords recipients the opportunity to continue and build on their life’s work, and that speaks to the vision, foresight and generosity of Jim Bettison and Helen James.”

2016 recipient Meryl Tankard said “The Bettison James Award has provided me with the resources to archive, preserve and share my past work with future generations, and enabled me to complete the first stage of a new screen work raising the awareness of mental health. Thank you Jim Bettison and Helen James for your generous support and vision in nurturing our future generations while respecting our unique heritage.”

The inaugural recipient in 2015, Greg Mackie OAM said “It was an incredible honour to be the inaugural award recipient. It came at a time when the Adelaide Festival of Ideas had lost its core funding, and it enabled me to re-group with supporters and ensure that a 2016 AFoI could be presented. Jim Bettison and Helen James had long supported the AFoI and so the award was a beautiful extension of that relationship.”


The Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation was established to realise the vision of Dr Jim Bettison and Ms Helen James, who were committed to supporting a wide range of activity in the community through philanthropy and professional engagement. Jim co-founded Codan, a successful and award-winning Adelaide company, established the Developed Image Photographic Gallery and served as Deputy Chancellor at the University of Adelaide. Helen was an exhibiting studio artist. She served on various key arts committees and was a founding member of the National Library of Australia’s Foundation Board.


MORE INFORMATION: /apply-2018-jim-bettison-helen-james-award/

INTERVIEWS available with: 

Amanda Duthie, Director/CEO Adelaide Film Festival

Doreen Mellor, spokesperson for the Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation

Award recipients

MEDIA CONTACT: Cathy Gallagher, ABCG Film. PH: 0416 227282 [email protected]

MEDIA CONTACT: Alicia Brescianini, ABCG Film. PH: 0400 225 603 [email protected]